The reluctant business-woman

The reluctant business-woman

I’ve had a ‘failed’ business, one that I decided to close down because it was obvious that it wasn’t going to give me a decent living. Now I’m a full-time author, I really don’t like to think of myself as being in business, because that has bad connotations for me. So it has taken me two years to finally admit the unpalatable fact – I’m actually in business again. Not a bricks & mortar business, a writing business. The one I’ve been doing all this time but just couldn’t accept the fact that it was a business, rather than a creative calling. Many authors, like artists, are more comfortable with the idea of starving for their art and remaining ‘pure’ than about getting serious about their business. I trained in Internet Marketing and have been the tech and writer for a couple of start-up companies. I did enough of it to make me recoil from doing it for myself! It always felt manipulative and greedy. I guess I classed the opposite of greed and manipulation as poverty and struggle. I didn’t see the middle ground. Until, that is, I formatted a book for a wonderful author, Julie Ann Hart, who specializes in intuitive coaching. We chatted and I spoke about my reluctance to consider myself a business person, because of my past history. She said, “You know, you are a business-person, you’re a heart-centered business-person.” That took my breath away* and made a monumental difference to my attitude about my life and work. I am heart-centered – love the expression – but I’m not in the habit of wearing my heart on my sleeve, so no-one knows about it. Yet I love other heart-centered business people. People like Oprah Winfrey and Marie Forleo – they are highly successful, kick-ass business-women but they donate huge chunks of time and money to deserving causes and they provide extensive, free information and advice to help others. All while being super successful themselves. We don’t think of them as being greedy, just because they are successful; or manipulative, just because they use certain marketing techniques. For me, it’s the old “put your oxygen mask on first” thing. We need to look after ourselves before we can be in a position to help others. If I’m not successful enough myself, I won’t be able to help struggling authors. If I don’t start to think of my work as a business, then I won’t be as successful as I could be. Getting serious about my business means that I have decided to give up the small projects and bits and pieces that I’ve been doing. I’ve gone through my royalties and discovered which of my books and pen names are giving me the most return and I’m going to focus on building those brands and those genres. I’m not going to start spamming people and filling my books with cheesy Internet Marketing messages and affiliate links. I don’t see anything wrong with running a newsletter and building a list of people who want to subscribe to it, though. Internet Marketing doesn’t have to be manipulative – it can be transparent and immensely helpful. I’ve started following Steve Scott’s helpful book marketing advice on his blog and decided to spend more time on my friend Cathy Presland’s site. Cathy is an International economist turned book coach and a great example of the type of business-person it is possible to be: a successful authorpreneur who always has time to help people. I’m also going to use a technique I learned from Kristen Eckstein (the Ultimate Book Coach). She advises authors to ask their existing readers to be beta readers/reviewers for future books. Kristen sends her latest book out to her list of beta readers and they report back with any typos that her proof-readers and editors have missed, and write reviews that can go on Amazon when the book is launched, as well as in the book itself and on marketing copy. It’s about getting smart, not getting greedy. It’s about taking yourself seriously and being professional and forward-thinking. I’m going to give it a go.     *The city where my son lives, Liverpool, has a funny expression for this emotion. They call it feeling ‘gob-smacked’ – as if someone just slapped you in the face! Quite fitting, I think.   You may also like:Goodbye To ColaAre You An...

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Goodreads Technical Issues

The Goodreads site is having some technical issues at the moment. Please bear with them. They are very professional and will no doubt be working frantically to fix the problem(s). Goodreads technical issues are fortunately quite rare! The main difficulty seems to be with logging in. People are seeing an error message saying that Goodreads is busy. Keep trying and you will generally get in. The other issue is being unable to rate books. You may see an error message when you click on a star to rate a book, telling you that you are not able to rate at the moment. I found that when I went to the My Books page my rating had actually registered! I hope it isn’t the popularity of my ‘Goodreads for Authors’ book that has given them these problems! I’m sure they’ll get them sorted out soon. You may also like:A Sneak Peak ...Would You Like To Read A Bit Of...

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How to win Goodreads Giveaways

How to win Goodreads Giveaways

If you love books you may have heard of Goodreads. If not, you’re in for a wonderful surprise! It is a site specially for book lovers. One of the founders, Otis Y Chandler, really enjoyed looking at his friends’ bookshelves when he visited their houses. He was a software engineer, so decide to build a site to replicate the real world. Goodreads has thousands of virtual bookshelves. The idea is that members of the site add the books they have read, want to read, and are currently reading to their shelves. Their friends can then browse the shelves to see if there are anybooks they would like to read. There are many more features to the site than that – honestly, you could spend hours there! – but one of the most popular is the ‘Giveaways’ section. The idea behind giveaways is that publishers and authors offer paperback books as prizes in individual contests. Lots of publishers do this months before books are published (which is amazing, if you win one of those, you get to read it months before anyone else!), to generate some publcity and eagerness for the book’s release. Why would they do that? Because reviews are really important. Often, the more successful a book is, the more reviews it has. It makes sense. If you were visiting a foreign city and wanted something to eat, you probably wouldn’t choose an empty restaurant on a quiet sidestreet, but one which looked popular and thriving. It is the same with books. Sure, it’s nice to be one of the first to discover a new book or author, but in these troubled economic times, not many of us are willing to risk hard-earned cash on books we may not like. We are much more likely to buy books that our friends have read and recommended to us. Publishers know that, so they are willing to give away some copies of books in order to get good reviews. OK, so that’s half the story. The other half is how you win these contests. I found out this information when researching my book, ‘Goodreads for Authors’, which shows authors how to use the site and interact with their readers. Here’s how to win Goodreads giveaways: 1. Write Some Reviews In the Goodreads Giveaway terms & conditions, they state that: ‘If more people are interested in a book than there are copies available [which is nearly always the case], we will pick the winners at our discretion. The factors that go into our algorithm are: randomness, site activity, genre of books on your shelves, current phase of the moon, and more.’ That means that their algorithm chooses the winners, but it takes things into consideration. Bear in mind that Goodreads know that publishers are going to keep continuing to give their books as prizes in these giveaways while it works for them – that is, while they generate reviews (on Goodreads and elsewhere, such as Amazon). So it makes sense that the things that will influence their algorithm is if the people who enter the giveaway have written reviews before. They are much more likely to review the book they win than someone who has never written a review. Write some reviews of books you have read. People can be put off writing reviews, feeling it will take too long or be overly complicated. It doesn’t have to be! All you need to convey is that you enjoyed the book and would recommend it. That could be as simple as: 101 Dalmatians – “This book is so much better than the Disney version. I highly recommend it.” Mo The Talking Dog – A delight for both children and adults.” Twlight – A Parody – A clever book that pokes gentle fun at the Twilight series without causing serious offence to the fans. Very funny.” Simple. Some people write much longer reviews, and you can if you want to, but you don’t have to. As far as I can tell, the chances of winning giveaways are not improved if you write long reviews. 2. Be active on the site The Goodreads terms for giveaways mention ‘site activity’. That probably means it is less likely that you will win a giveaway if you haven’t been on the site for 6 months. Their algorithm probably deliberately chooses from people who have been active recently. What does being active mean? Just going to the site regularly (say a couple of times a week) and participating. Most things can be done with a quick click – e.g. voting in a poll, adding a book to your shelves, clicking ‘Like’ on a...

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Goodreads Giveaway Tips

Goodreads is the social site for people who love reading. It is amazing! What is even more amazing is that you can win free books on the site (see How To Win Books On Goodreads, below). At its most basic, it’s a way of cataloguing your books on virtual shelves, but it is much more than that. If you make friends with people on the site – and add friends from the physical world, social networking sites and email contacts – you can see each other’s books and get/make recommendations. I have discovered authors via friends and picked new books thanks to their reviews. You start with three shelves, to show books you have already read, books you are currently reading and books you want to read. Then you add shelves, with names of your choice: There are also discussion groups – you’ll find me talking extensively about Twilight! – and book clubs. Also fun is the opportunity to compare books with friends and other Goodreads’ users. This shows you how you have rated books compared to their ratings, and brings up books they have reviewed to give you the chance to add them to your shelves – either ‘To Read’ or ‘Read’. One of the most popular areas of the site, that many members visit every single day, is the Giveaway section. You can find it at: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway. It has lists of contests to win free books (paperback versions, not eBooks) and the winners receive the books in the post. Authors are encouraged to offer their books free on Goodreads for these contests. The idea is that many of the people who win a free book will be good enough to write a review of it on Goodreads (some people are so enthusiastic that they write reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, Shelfari, and elsewhere!). Reviews help book sales, so publishers and authors are keen to do this. Goodreads recommend that authors/publishers offer about 10 books per contest. Some offer more, some less, but there will often be more than one chance of winning each book. Of course, lots and lots of people enter these contests to win books so how do you go about increasing your chances of winning? Try these tips, which I unearthed while researching my book, ‘Goodreads For Authors’.   How To Win Books On Goodreads Be sure to have a good number of books on your Goodreads shelves. There isn’t a minimum but a good rule of thumb is 20, because that is the amount you need in order to trigger the Goodreads Recommendations Engine, so it is obviously a number that brings you to their attention as a committed user of the site. Have books on your shelves that are in the genre of the book(s) you want to win (you can select the contests by genre). Remember that the incentive for authors giving their books away is that they may get some reviews. Goodreads are more likely to pick you as a winner if you read books in the same genre, it shows you are keen and therefore more likely to read and review the book. If authors get reviews, they are more likely to offer free books in future, so keeping the Goodreads Giveaway section busy and popular! Rate lots of books and write as many reviews as you can. Rating is easy, you just click a star underneath the book. Writing reviews takes longer but isn’t difficult. Some people are scared of writing reviews but they don’t have to be lengthy, you can just say you really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to other [the genre] fans. Don’t worry that the author will object if you write a less than glowing review – Goodreads tell authors not to respond to reviews. They want to keep the site independent, lively and honest. To summarize how to Goodreads Giveaways: rate and review, keep genres in mind and have lots of books on your shelves. As an added bonus, lots of the books in the contests are offered pre-publication (publishers like to build up a bit of enthusiasm about a book before they release it) so you may even get your hands on a book before everyone else is able to buy it!       You may also like:Mo The Talking Dog Is Live!Would You Like To Read A Bit Of...

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